For some Pitt State students, entering the Gibson Dining Hall for breakfast and lunch adds a positive aspect to their day as they are greeted by name and asked how their day is going by cashier Sharon Lipham.
Lipham has worked at the Gibson Dining Hall since August 2018 and is known by many students as being welcoming and adding a more personal touch to student’s dining experience by learning their names.
“She’s always super happy and really welcoming and cares about how the day’s going,” said Shannon Drouhard, freshman in nursing. “It’s really personal, and it feels good that she wants to get to know us personally.”
Drouhard is one of many students that Lipham knows and is able to talk with each time upon entering the Dining Hall and believes that the personal touch Lipham adds by addressing her by name has had a positive effect on her Dining Hall experience.
“I see her every day for either breakfast or lunch,” Drouhard said. “She learned my name in probably two or three weeks.”
Lipham said she began to learn the names of students by how often she saw them.
“But then I told myself I’d learn at least one name per day, and it just went from there,” she said.
Lipham’s goal by learning student’s names and engaging with them personally is to “make a difference in students’ days.”
“Just to make a difference in (your) day, because you all struggle,” Lipham said. “You all are away from home, you all struggle, and you all need positivity, so I try to help out with that.”
Lipham believes that building relationships with the students helps them have a more positive day.
“It helps them (students), it helps boost (your) character, (your) morale for the day,” she said. “You all might have just flunked a test or something, so to be greeted ‘Hi, how are you doing?’, ‘have a nice day’… That’s going to boost (your) confidence a little bit.”
Originally from Chattanooga, Tennessee, Lipham moved to Pittsburg in 2015 because her fiancé had grandchildren in the area.
“…we moved here for one grandkid and we now have four grandkids,” Lipham said.
Initially, she babysat her grandchildren, but once they began in pre-K and grade school she decided she “needed an income”, so she applied to work at the PSU Dining Hall. She started out making salads at the “Crisp Creations” station, before being moved to a cashier position after the previous cashier broke her foot.
She quickly grew to enjoy her new position as cashier as it gave her more opportunities to interact with students.
“The different students that come in (and) hearing about (your) day is really interesting,” Lipham said.
Lipham strives to always have a positive attitude at work, as she believes it can play a large role in the days of the students she works with.
“If I’m in a bad mood, it’s going to play off onto other people and it’ll lower their moods,” she said. “So, staying positive, like I said, (you) are in enough battles, (you) are away from home and (you) have birthdays and this that and another, and you’re away from home, so my positivity plays onto (you).”
Drouhard believes that Pitt State employees taking the time to interact and build relationships with students is important as it “…builds a good relationship between the school and students, and makes it feel more like home.”
Lipham is grateful for the impact she can have in students’ lives as a cashier.
“I love my job, I love seeing all the different kids, learning about (your) days what (you) are doing, different stuff like that,” Lipham said. “I look at (you) like my kids… If you ever need anybody to talk to, I’m here.”